All My Holy Mountain

Our rating: ****½

Please note: I’ve tried to keep this as spoiler-free as possible, but if you haven’t yet read the series up through Father of Dragons, I’d advise you to skip this review.

The time has come for all of Kirthanin to take their final stand against Malek. With the added forces of the dragons and the Kalin Seir, things begin to look up for Aljeron and the army, but the losses of war are still great, and Malek is getting desperate. Encouraged by Valzaan, the people fight for the hope of Allfather’s restoration. Benjiah knows, however, that before the binding of the blade can be broken, a sacrifice must be made.

Because this picks up right where Father of Dragons left off—a suspenseful cliffhanger—you are almost immediately plunged into a climactic battle that lasts for nearly a hundred pages. At first I found the prospect dismaying, as I enjoy well-turned dialogue or scenes that deal with individuals more than enormous conflicts of good and evil. However, I was pleasantly surprised, and my attention didn’t waver much at all throughout, despite my initial pessimism. And then, of course, there’s the rest of book! Captivating. Everything that has been building from the four previous books is masterfully dealt with, and the story’s climax to top all its former climaxes does not disappoint. Sure, there are some flaws. But it’s not every book I read that can stir me around inside and then leave me with an overwhelming sense of satisfaction, and that’s what All My Holy Mountain did. Do not miss this conclusion to the Binding of the Blade series.

Father of Dragons

Our rating: ****

Once again, spoiler alert. With the by now familiar cliffhanger endings, this next-to-last book in the series is full of revelations and battles, all moving toward the final book, All My Holy Mountain, coming in April.

After his capture in Shadow in the Deep, Benjiah is still in the custody of his father’s murderer. The remaining Kirthanin army is fleeing before the unending pressure of Malek’s hosts. Aljeron and a few of his band have reached the base of Harak Andunin, despite terrible odds. A surprise awaits them in the form of Valzaan, the prophet. Yes, I said Valzaan. Alive. He joins them in their trek up the mountain and into the gyre of the Father of Dragons, Sulmandir. Thankfully, Sulmandir is alive and, after some debate, agrees to help them by awakening his children. Benjiah’s prophecy of the “four races” is on its way to fulfillment with the union of the Great Bear, Men, and Dragons. Aljeron prepares to lead his remaining followers across the Zaros mountains, where they will join the retreating army of Kirthanin in a final, desperate stand.

This book kept me on the edge of my chair. I kept wondering how the goodguys could possibly get into a worse predicament, and then a new disaster would take place. Wylla gets captured, Benjiah’s under a death sentence, a couple of goodguys get killed, (goodguys who have been with us since the first book), Malek has been revealed, and, trust me, who he’s been masquerading as is a bit of a shock, and on top of it all the goodguy armies are forced to surrender! Everything seems hopeless, then Aljeron finds the mysterious “fourth race,” Sulmandir arrives and . . . the end. Sorry, you’ll have to wait until April to find out.

Shadow in the Deep

Our rating: ****½

Whoa! Hold it! I have to warn you, before you read this review, that I have to give away the ending of the previous book, Bringer of Storms. If you haven’t read it yet, you probably want to go on to the next review.

With Valzaan gone, Benjiah must fulfill his role as Allfather’s prophet. But he’s uncertain and everybody seems to be dependent upon him. Meanwhile, Aljeron is in the northern reaches of Kirthanin on a hunch, trying to find Sulmindar, the missing father of dragons. In his place as commander, Caan takes over military movements as the army flees before Malek and his hoard. And with the Bringer of Storms still producing rain, flooding is setting in quickly, leaving them less and less place to run.

Excitement, adventure, and, uh, abrupt ending. Worth reading, but you might want to skip it until the series ends. Much too abrupt of an ending, though. Finally, we get to meet dragons for a lengthy amount of time. Wonderful!

Beyond the Summerland

Our rating: ****½

Joraiem Andira, a young man skilled with the bow, is preparing to leave his home in Dal Harat and journey to Sulare where his training as one of the Novaana will begin. He will join with others like him in the battle against Malek, the greatest of the Titans whose betrayal brought death to his Titan brothers and destruction to Kirthanin. With memorable characters such as Valzaan the blind prophet, Wylla, Caan and Aljeron and his battle brother, Koshti, Joraiem strives to fulfill his destiny.

A truly remarkable book. L. B. Graham’s vivid imagination, woven together with adventure, suspense, and tragedy, makes an amazing story. It’s written in a style similar to Tolkien and I found it to be every bit as enjoyable. I must say that the ending was rather disappointing, but I don’t want to give anything away, so that’s all I’ll say about that. Reading it was quite an experience and by the time I finished it I was emotionally exhausted, but it was definitely worth the read.

Bringer of Storms

Our rating: ****

Hold it right there! Before you read this review, I must warn you that it gives away something from the first book, Beyond the Summerland. So if you haven’t read the first book yet, don’t read any farther!!! And I mean that! I know it’s hard, but MOVE ON TO THE NEXT REVIEW! Okay, are you gone? Alright. For those of you who have read the first one, or are disregarding my warnings, go ahead and read.

Benjiah, son of Wylla and Joriaem, is now seventeen, and Wylla still has not told him that his father was a prophet of Allfather. Aljeron and Koshti are away in Shalin Bel, engaged in a seven-year war against Rhulalin, with the aim to bring him to justice. Little do they know what Malek is about to attempt, but the urgency of the situation is brought home when Valzaan discovers that Benjiah is The Chosen One.

There. Any of you who disregarded my instructions now have a pretty good idea of how Beyond the Summerland ends. I like this one better than the first. It’s really good. Oh, those of you who despaired with me over the abrupt ending in the first one, let me warn you: this one’s even worse.